“They’re a good team, they’ve got a lot of weapons,” slumping Rangers forward Brian Boyle explained after the team’s 4-1 loss on the road.
The Rangers hurt themselves mightily with an uncharacteristically large amount of turnovers in this particular game. They were suffering from irresponsible play with the puck all night long, and the capitals capitalized on all of the Rangers short-comings, and didn’t fail to finish plays.
“Turnovers in the neutral zone, and the (defensive) zone…we made a couple mistakes,” Boyle admitted. “Torts thought we beat ourselves there.”
The Rangers bread and butter this season, has been their ability to pin opponents deep in their own zone, and then bring heavy pressure. Tonight however, they were failing to get the puck deep and set up a cycle. Puck possession problems plagued them the entire night.
“They made adjustments to our down-low play,” net-minder Martin Biron explained after the game.
Biron got the nod tonight, and ended up with just his second loss on the season. He has been an anchor all season, and has even prompted John Tortorella to refer to Biron and Lundqvist as 1 and 1a more than once this year.
Biron further added, “When you’re playing from behind against a team that is shutting things down, it becomes hard to come back.”
A positive from the game, was the strong play from Brandon Dubinsky, who has been playing his best hockey as of late. He has been strong on the puck, and is making plays with his body. The goal-scoring will come, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Dubinsky, who scored just his third goal of the season tonight.
Things don’t look bleak for the Rangers, who have avoided any sort of free-fall in the standings this year, with their consistent play all season long. They haven’t had a major losing streak, and still sit near the top of the league in points.
The road to the Winter Classic will continue to get tougher, as the team squares off against a surprisingly lethal Florida Panthers team. The Panthers have shocked everyone with their strong play so far, and should be a big task for the Rangers, who will have to stay focused on one game at a time, and not be distracted by the game on January 2nd.
The Rangers will need to keep their game simple, as they have all year if they want to head into the weekend with another two points in the standings. The Panthers do all the little things right, and can potentially make life very difficult on the the Rangers if they are firing on all cylinders.
While the loss to the Capitals was an incredibly poor showing from the Rangers tonight, there’s no reason to believe this will become a trend, and expect the team to rebound quickly on Friday night.